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Emotional Repression

My now emotionally repressed husband blames himself for my being raped.
















































(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Emotional Repression 

My now emotionally repressed husband blames himself for my being raped.

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner: Right now I want to invite Alicia, am I pronouncing that right?


Alicia: Yes.


Dr. Kenner: Tell me what's going on?


Alicia: My husband and I were married in 2005. We were both soldiers and I was raped by a fellow soldier two weeks after we were married. It was a swept-under-the-rug issue.


Dr. Kenner: You mean just tried to brush it aside and not make it a big deal?


Alicia: Well, the military swept it underneath the rug. So nothing ever happened to the guy. My husband of course felt like he should have done something, but his hands were tied by the Army for his career. Since then, his love for me, he has decreased. Now it's at the point where he doesn't even know how to love me or his own 2-year-old daughter and he is going into recurring depressions that are getting longer and worsening each time. This last one lasted six months. He's seeing a counselor, but that doesn't seem to help him.


Dr. Kenner: it sounds like he doesn't know how to make sense of his own actions. Like he doesn't love himself, unless there's something more complicated? But if I saw that someone I loved dearly had been raped and I want justice and I can do nothing about it, but I still face a choice. Maybe I can do something about it - maybe I can bring justice to this man. Not as a vigil ante of course, but through legal process, and they tie my hands and won't let me, maybe that just becomes an issue where I don't know who I am anymore. I'm the type of person who would fight for justice - I'm a soldier


Alicia: That's exactly what it is.


Dr. Kenner: So he needs to love himself first. He needs to come to terms with how that decision was made and not hold himself accountable for not protecting you? I don't know.


Alicia: Yes, that's his issue, that he has become very self-doubting and he feels helpless and worthless as a husband


Dr. Kenner: Okay. 


Alicia: And it's transferred over into his soldier life as well.


Dr. Kenner: Tell me about that.


Alicia: Well, like right now, he's not actually doing his normal MOS. He's been thrown into something that he doesn't know very well and so he feels, in his words, like an idiot. And that's how he's being treated, he feels. He's become a lot more sensitive to how people look at him and misreads a lot of even what I'm saying anymore. It's just only concentrating on the negative. Nothing is positive.


Dr. Kenner: Does he have any other history that would explain some of this?


Alicia: He said that when he was a kid, he got into a lot of fights and stuff like that, he would lose fights and things. He had dealt with a little bit of that when he was younger, but had kind of gotten past that, and this has kind of stirred up those old feelings as well.


Dr. Kenner: So it dovetails with he lost the fight. He couldn't protect you. How are you dealing with this?


Alicia: Well, for me the best way to deal with things is to write it out and force myself to deal with the issues. So I realize that there's nothing I could have done, that it wasn't my fault. I have dealt with this to the best of my abilities and I don't let it, when I start thinking about negative things, I force myself to think about positive things and that I did take a stand and I did take it to somebody and talk to them about it. He's the only reason I did that.


Dr. Kenner: He meaning who? Your husband?


Alicia: My husband.


Dr. Kenner: You mean you brought the rape to somebody in the military?


Alicia: Yes, the criminal investigations department


Dr. Kenner: And they did nothing. They won't reopen it.


Alicia: Well, the thing is, of course it was a he said, she said, because they actually dropped my rape kit on the ground and did not re-perform it. And it only went to battalion level. It didn't go any higher because they were all about numbers and it looked bad on their command. So they didn't even move him. He lived right across the hall from me and they didn't even move him.


Dr. Kenner: It wasn't a friendship situation at all? It was a pure rape situation I'm assuming?


Alicia: Well, he had actually started going to the gym with me and things like that. We actually were becoming friends. It's the whole, "you know, you're supposed to be able to trust this person with your life," and then they betray you like that. But the reality is soldiers are still human. 


Dr. Kenner: Right. So the question is, how do you get yourself back? How do you get your husband back?


Alicia: Yes.


Dr. Kenner: I'm assuming you still want that?


Alicia: Oh yeah, I still love him very much and I definitely have more emotion toward him than he does toward me. I want to help him come back to me. Because it hurts to see him go through these things and to know that he doesn't even know how to love me anymore.


Dr. Kenner: When he says he doesn't know how to love you, what do you think goes through his mind if he were to just hug you or kiss you or to want to make love with you?


Alicia: He himself has even said he can't even remember the last time we actually made love. When he kisses me and hugs me and things like that, there's really no emotion behind it anymore.


Dr. Kenner: It's sounding like he's repressing his emotions, because if you repress a negative one, the way emotional repression works is people will say to themselves, "That is so much trauma." Oh, I hear your daughter. I want her to have her mommy and daddy happy and romantically engaged eventually. When you tell your subconscious - nobody thinks of it as telling their subconscious - but when you tell yourself, "That pain I felt is so bad. My wife got raped right after we got married. Here I am a soldier, fighting in Iraq and I can't protect her. How can I love me anymore? I don't feel worthy of her anymore. I don't value myself anymore. I feel helpless. I feel worthless. I feel like that little kid in a fight that could never get anywhere, who was losing, and I don't want to feel anymore. I don't want to feel that pain anymore, so I'm just not going there anymore. I don't want to feel." It not only lops off all the painful feelings, but it lops off all of the joy. The joy of your daughter. The joy of you. So I would highly, highly recommend getting cognitive therapy. There's a book, Mind Over Mood that you can get at my website, He also needs to recapture the pronoun "I." He needs to value himself. He needs to be able to put it in context. I worked with vets and some of them had killed children in Vietnam to protect their own lives because the kids were strapped with bombs running after them, so they couldn't connect with their families at all. I did a lot of family therapy and what was fascinating was, when they felt close enough, comfortable enough, reopening up the injury and going back into the scene, they could see that they weren't the killer of the child. That the person who strapped the bomb on the child was the killer, and it made all the difference in the world, because they evaluated themselves differently. So if your husband can see that, given the situation, his hands were tied, he couldn't do anything, and the best thing he can do is rebuild a relationship with you, that's where his strength comes in. You can reframe it that way and that may help. I want to thank you so much for your service and for your call and I wish you the best.


Alicia: Thank you so much.




Movie clip


Female: You aren't going to school, are you Annie?


Male: When I grow up.


Female: You aren't. You're going to stay here and take care of me.


Male: I'm going to school when I grow up.


Female: You said we'd be together forever and ever and ever. 


Male: I'm going to school when I grow up. Now leave me be. 


Dr. Kenner: How many of us can fight for our values that strongly? That's from The Miracle Worker, that's Annie Sullivan fighting for her values. She won't give up her future. She won't, even if somebody says, "But I need you. But I want you. But you promised me you would be here and you wouldn't move on in your own life." Nobody phrases it that way. "You should do it for me." No, she wants to go to school. She wants to grow her mind. She wants to enjoy her life. Her life, her way. Without stepping on other people's feet and without letting herself be chained to someone else.